Photo by Martin Owen
The Depot. Jeffers St.≠ (US 83) is at left.
Mark and Dee Lutrell of North Platte have purchased the Depot Restaurant and want to re-open it, which involves considerable costs.The Lutrells are looking at nearly $150,000 in start up costs for the restaurant at the corner of Sixth and Jeffers, in addition to $100,000 or so to repair and upgrade the building, according to documents they filed with the city.
They have applied for help from the Quality Growth Fund, seeking a grant of $30,000. Their application will be considered Wednesday by the citizen’s advisory committee. That sum would be about 20% of their start-up operating costs, the application says.
There is about $3 million in the quality growth fund, Chamber and DevCo Executive Director Gary Person said Tuesday.
The Lutrells aim to restore the restaurant and provide similar food for similar prices as before, according to their application. They would employ about 25 people, full- and part-time, according to the application.
The restaurant closed more than a year ago because of financial difficulties. The final straw seemed to be a minor collision with a street sign that knocked out one of the north windows in the dining room, and the owners simply closed the doors.
The building has been a feature of North Platte since it first opened in 1928 as a gas station and auto repair shop on what was then the busy Lincoln Highway / U.S. 30. It was converted to an upscale restaurant in 1980, featuring inlaid wood walls and items depicting North Platte's historical railroad traditions.
The quality growth fund advisory committee meeting begins at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the chamber of commerce building.
Workforce shot in arm
Also, the advisory committee will consider allocating money for a “shot in the arm” incentive to bring more skilled employees to Lincoln County.
Person announced the program in December and introduced it in January.
Under the terms, a company would enter a three-year agreement with a worker for a job that pays at least $20 an hour.
The worker would get $10,000 as a signing bonus. Half of that amount would be paid by the city’s quality growth fund, and the other half by the employer.
The goal is to help employers recruit key employees to Lincoln County, creating about 70 good paying jobs, Person said. It will require about $350,000 from the quality growth fund.
An initial sample survey found there are 192 job openings among 45 different chamber member businesses, Person said, and those businesses indicated an interest in this program.
The publicity over the work force incentive gained statewide attention and was featured in the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s newsletter, based on the Bulletin’s news story earlier this year.
Among the finer points of the incentive, new employees can use the $10,000 incentive for one of the following purposes:
• Student Loan Reduction;
• Senior/Late Year Scholarship at 4-year college or graduate program;
• Scholarship for trade school or community college;
• Moving/Relocation expenses;
• Down payment assistance on home purchase or utility deposits;
• Purchase of tooling or equipment needed for a specific trade
• Combination of all of the above.
If an employer only wants to participate in a smaller incentive amount, say $2,000, the matching funds would be that amount also.